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Gang Members Seize Turkish Prison

November 2, 2000

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Members of an underworld gang took control of a Turkish prison in rioting that left five inmates dead, including four who were thrown out a window, authorities said Thursday.

Members of the Karagumruk gang held 26 prison officials and guards hostage at the Usak prison near the Aegean coast city of Izmir, the Justice Ministry said. It said plans to storm the prison were canceled after the rioters announced they would surrender Friday.

The rioters threw the body of a dead inmate and four injured prisoners from a prison window, the ministry said in a statement. It said the four, three of whom had been shot and one severely beaten, died in the hospital.

Another seven people were injured, including the prison’s deputy chief.

The gang members, who started the riot after eight inmates from a rival group were transferred to Usak, took 28 captives overnight, but released two Thursday, the ministry said. It was unclear why they planned to surrender.

In the past year, there have been several clashes at Istanbul prisons between members of Karagumruk and a rival group. Two Karagumruk leaders were recently transferred to Usak in an effort to end the fighting.

The rioters demanded that four other gang members be transferred to Usak. but State Minister Tunca Toskay said the government would not negotiate with the prisoners.

Several Karagumruk members are in prison pending trial on charges of kidnapping, beating and extortion. Authorities say the gang is a leading Istanbul criminal organization.

Prisons in Turkey are often overcrowded, guards are poorly paid, and riots are not uncommon.

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